I can't really fault the women of course; Serena played as well as her heavily strapped leg would allow her to (credit to her for not pulling out) and Azarenka showed great mettle in doing what was expected of her under the circumstances.
Her unimaginative and drone-like point construction mean she'll continue to top my 'learning-to-like-but-probably-not-trying-hard-enough' list (girl plays like she's hooked up to a TomTom navigator - "Hit the next double hander, to the right!") - but I do on a certain level, respect someone who keeps it simple (very simple), keeps it real and just goes out there and executes. And it doesn't get anymore gutsy than taking out Serena in her own back yard (straps or no straps).
However I really did think we were going to see something pretty special between Novak and Andy.
There's not a lot you can say about the match other than that Andy, not withstanding a slight lapse in concentration in the second set (a likely result of the injury timeout Novak took at the beginning of the 2nd set) that only slightly prolonged the match doing little to change it's eventual course, did exactly what most people following the event expected him to.
Andy was for me, hands down, the best competitor of the event. He looked and played his way through like one of the top four players in the world with all the style, confidence, pizzazz and flamboyance that implies, handing poor old Victor Troicki a particularly malignant 6-1,6-0 drubbing along the way. Message to the locker room: 'Look, No Hands'.
Having got through Berdych, Tsonga and that newly inducted member of Club-Marat, I was beginning to think Djoko had a real chance of reacquiring some of that vitality that's been missing from his game for more months than I now care to remember.
It's not that either of the wins he had en route to the final were that convincing: Berdych was as Berdych is, Tsonga was very clearly not at the races, and as for that bloke wot broke his tennis bat, well, even Novak might struggle to draw positives from that one (Scratch that - being an effecter of that tantrum probably ranks alongside the title itself with Novak).
But the experience of winning some consecutive matches again (against some pretty tough opponents ) should surely have paved the way to a renaissance of sorts. No?
Instead we saw much of the indifference and lack of conviction that has marred his game and personality for several months.
Murray's win here has put him within only 170 points of the #3 spot (and incidentally around 2000 points of #2). I've put my belief in Novak for many months now, but it's surely now only a matter of time is it not, that we see Murray duly enthroned as the new world number 3? I'd say as early as Rome, and with the way things are I don't expect him to stop there.
***Some parting thoughts.
Firstly can we all just agree that for a number of different reasons, and despite not always having a Fifth Slam-like quality about the tennis, that this was the most thrilling mens event we've had in a while - and that includes the last couple of Slams. Whether it was Roger totalling his racquet, Del-Potro's totalling of Nadal, Wawrinka's clinic on countering Rafa with a (right handed) SHB, the reemergence of Taylor Dent and that wonderful tap dance he does at the net or the continued resurgence of the A-Rod, there was more than plenty to love and get excited about.
Nadal continued to impress even in his defeats. This guy is a class act in every sense of the word and I continue to be reminded every time I see one of his matches why I'm grateful it was him and not someone else that took the #1 ranking from Roger. I'm not about to read anything alarming into the very evident reality that Rafa was pretty out of sorts and well below average.
Guys just won the two most important events of the year to date. You've got to be pretty obtuse to think there's something very wrong with feeling a little tired after that. And lo and behold - it's the clay court season again. What a perfect way to begin begin loving your work again? I'm pretty sure there's some crushed shale dissolved in with Rafa's blood plasma. Expect further awesomeness in the coming months.
Federer? If you continue to believe it's business as usual after what happened in Melbourne and against Djoko here yesterday, might I suggest a less psychedelic strain of tint on your specs? It's too easy to suggest appointing a coach, and a little naive to think that'd suddenly change everything. But it's also naive to believe he can turn things around by continuing to hold faith in his natural abilities. He has very obviously now, hit a wall.
For what it's worth, I don't think he was that far from his best up until those scary moments in that last match against Djoko, but it's becoming increasingly clear that he's going to need to get on top of whatever it is that is causing these inexplicable, and it seems recurring moments of madness. I do sometimes find the continual insistence of a lot of Fed fans to appoint a coach a little tiresome and not always that well thought out. But if such a presence is someone whom he trusts and respects and is, more importantly, capable of getting him to think about his game in a different way, the partnership might just end up -- like a placebo effect -- imparting in his game the degree of robustness he needs to at least start winning some of those matches against Rafa and Andy.
This weeks Star Trekkers:
Djoko - Not really a return to the winner's table and still very far from his best I'm afraid. But he did manage to get to the final (albeit in the face of a series of very dodgy performances from his opponents) protecting his #3 ranking (for the time being), and didn't pull out of in his match against Tsonga, also earning him his Dorando Pietri Award. All good as far as I can tell.
Del-Potro - Tried something different with a more aggressive approach to point construction and came out on top. Gotta like players that take risks, by playing outside of their comfort zone. Took out an underperforming Nadal, executing a particularly exquisite drop shot in the process. I doubt he's got what it takes to hang out for any length of time with those other four, and this more proactive approach is hardly a mainstay of his game, but he's no longer the Top Ten's Whipping Boy. Someone else will have to take that role on. Gael Monfils?
Taylor Dent - What's not to like? Serve and volley at it's very best. His match against Federer was my pick of the tournament before I saw the Rafa butt heads with Del-Potro. Shame his fitness is not yet in synch with the rest of his game. Can't wait until it is.
This week's Lost In Space:
Gael Monfils, David Nalbandian and Gilles Simon. Underperforming extraordinaires every last one of them
It's a little late so I'll leave the Women's picks for the next post.
// EDIT - Gasquet was out with a shoulder injury in Miami - me being me I assumed he went out early; substituted him with Nalbandian under 'Lost in Space'